Smallholder Farmers Awareness and Perceptions of Climate Change in Moshi Rural District, Tanzania
Farmers’ perception of climate change is a pre-requisite for undertaking adaptation actions. However little is known on how smallholder farmers in different agro ecological zones of Tanzania perceive climate change. This study examined the perception of climate change among smallholder farmers in different agro ecological zones of Moshi Rural district, Tanzania. Primary data were obtained from 359 household heads and 35 key informants. Data collection methods for this study were questionnaire survey, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions and observation. Questionnaires were administered to 359 household heads while in-depth interviews were administered to key informants. Historical data for rainfall and temperature were obtained from Tanzania Meteorological Agency. Analysis involved descriptive statistics for quantitative data and content analysis for qualitative data. Findings from this study revealed that majority (98.3%) of farming households were aware of climate change in terms of increasing temperature and reduced rainfall. Furthermore, 92.5 % of respondents perceived that temperatures have increased, while 74.9 % perceived that rainfall has decreased. However, these perceptions differed between the different agro ecological zones. Most farmers perceived that amounts and duration of rainfall had decreased. Rainfall has been more unpredictable, unevenly distributed, as well as starts late and ends early. Farmers perceived that the wet season is getting shorter because they perceived that currently, the wet season starts late. The study has indicated that majority of farmers are aware of climate change, but failed to understand the nature and extent of its impacts due to limited access to up-dated climate related information. Therefore, provision of timely, relevant and user-friendly climate information should strategically reach smallholder farmers.